Build for Crewsing

Get on the water and behind the helm

Embarking on a new adventure normally leads to seeking out guidance with experience to execute the new adventure properly. Being book smart and understanding the details and discipline of a new activity or field is a small part of the total picture. Hands on training and experience contributes immensely to learning that activity when applied in a real environment.  Learning to operate a watercraft properly and safely is not much different than learning to fly an aircraft. It takes hours with hands-on experience to hone your skills. Our trawler school will give you the means to develop skills, gain experience, develop confidence and acquire certification.  Experience is the best teacher.

US Powerboating™ – The Certification Series

Trawlers Great Lakes is certified as a Cruising Powerboat course provider for US Powerboating™. Since 2018, we have specialized in trawler focused training, education and on-water courses. Our Nordic Tug 32’s are the platform for all our trawler school classes. We’ve tailored the Basic Powerboat Cruising (BPC), Inshore Powerboat Cruising (IPC), and Night Operations Endorsement to emphasize trawler handling, piloting, maintenance, design, and ownership management.  Our classes are small, personal and focused on delivering the best possible experience onboard a trawler.  

  • Personal classes with two people max per class
  • Four-day class structure with three certifications BPC IPC and NOE
  • Liveaboard experience for the entire four days
  • Trawler ACE After Class Experience
  • US Coast Guard Captains and Certified US Powerboating Instructors
  • US Powerboating Certified Cruising School
  • CenterPointe Marina Complex

Basic Powerboat Cruising – BPC

BPC is a two day on-the-water training course is for anyone who wants to learn how to safely operate a single engine trawler and begin to hone their boat handling skills. The US Coast Guard and the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA) have approved this course and an increasing number of states have recognized it as meeting their requirements for a state boating safety education certificate. These national and state approvals call for the course to include a total of six to eight hours of classroom sessions covering required education topics. US Coast Guard & NASBLA Approved.  BPC course topics will include a mix of on water and classroom settings.

  • Preparation and starting procedures
  • Leaving and returning to a slip and line handling
  • Docking techniques and approaches
  • Close quarters maneuvering
  • Anchoring techniques, using a windlass and ground tackle
  • Determine a position with bearings and GPS
  • Determine time / speed / distance
  • Open water manuevering
  • PIW location and recovery

Inshore Powerboat Cruising – IPC

IPC is the continuation of the Certification Series to build your skills and establish confidence. IPC drills down into the topics further with more detail in navigation, COLREGS, emergency procedures and more. Take you vessel handling skills to the next level during the more detailed IPC. IPC also includes the Night Operation Endorsement certification.

  • Personal classes with two people max per class
  • Liveaboard experience for entire four days
  • Utilize advanced electronic navigation and use of waypoints and DR
  • Utilize advanced PIW recovery with a Williamson and Racetrack maneuver
  • Plot fixes

Night Operations Endorsement – NOE

The Night Operations Endorsement is an essential certification for those have a desire to experience what being underway at night is all about. Everything changes. Focus and being “on point” is crucial.  

NOE course will include one evening underway departing before sunset and returning after sunset

  • Leave and return to a slip
  • Identify and use aids to navigation and buoy lights
  • Identify hazards to navigation
  • Identify other vessel traffic
  • Perform a simulated PIW drill
  • Understand how onboard lights affect night vision

Trawler ACE – After Class Experience

ACE1 – a person who excels at a particular sport or activity

Being book smart and understanding the details and discipline of a new activity or field is a small part of the overall goal. Practical hands on training and experience contributes immensely to learning when applied in a real environment.   The Trawler ACE was created to give our trawler school graduates a “post class option” to experience the joy and freedom of having the Nordic Tug 32 on your own. The essence of what boating and cruising are all about. The boat is yours for three days after successful completion of the BPC, IPC and NOE course tests and on-water skills.  Your course instructor’s approval of your capabilities will also be a requirement. It is an excellent way to step into the cruising lifestyle and find out if this thing called boating is in your future. In the protected waters of West Grand Traverse Bay, easy day trips to Suttons Bay or Northport marinas are excellent forays to unfamiliar yet easily navigable destinations. Overnight anchorages are excellent ways to further your anchoring skills and watch protocol. Power Island, Old Mission Harbor, Omena and Bowers Harbor are perfect holding grounds and protected depending on the weather . Obtaining a private pilot’s license or scuba diving are examples of setting out on your own to apply what you have learned. Nothing develops confidence and a feeling of accomplishment than executing a newly learned skill under your own guidance and direction.

Our trawler school and Trawler ACE are the ideal ways to accomplish your goals. 

  • Stay at our facility further practicing Dock and Go’s or cruise to a nearby marina for day trips
  • Great opportunity to start with your first cruising log entry
  • West Grand Traverse Bay is and excellent proving grounds for your first solo cruise
  • Trawler ACE is fundamentally the best way to build your confidence and your abilities
  • Unparalleled experience

2024 Trawler School Classes Now Booking

As the 2023 season comes to a close, we are now booking for the 2024 season.  Please fill out the trawler school registration form to secure your class.  All classes will start on Mondays.  We will be posting the available classes in October.

2024 Trawler School Dates

Trawler school classes are now available for booking. If a class date is not available for your preferred dates, please contact us to arrange a class that fits your schedule.


Trawler School Questions

Let us know if you don’t see yours here – Call us at 231-941-5884 or fire off an email  [email protected] 

How long has the trawler school been active?

2018 was the first year as a trial basis.  2019 was the first full year with graduates.

What boat are the classes held on?

All classes are aboard a Nordic Tug 32. The vessel is owned and maintained by Trawlers Great Lakes. An extensive refit was performed on the vessel prior to being used for the trawler school and ACE.

Do we stay on the boat overnight?

Yes and it’s a valuable and important part of the experience. Living aboard gives you first hand exposure to marina life and benefits of the boating community and camaraderie. Co-existing and managing onboard responsibilities will give you further glimpse of what cruising is about.

What’s included with the cost of the classes?

Most everything you need to get started on the right course. There are no additional fees for anything class related except sales tax for the Governor. We provide bedding and linens, sundry items, galley convenience items and a lot of trawler knowledge. Provisioning is left up to you. We have numerous grocery stores and restaurants in the near vicinity to meet most every need.

Does the class cost include one or two people?

Class pricing is for two people.  Pricing for the NOE is for two people also.  

Where do the courses take place?

The entirety of the classes will be balanced between the Nordic Tug 32 for on-water skills development and the classroom for visual aids and testing. West Grand Traverse Bay will serve as your training grounds. After the class has ended for the day, the CenterPointe Marina complex is a great place to unwind and relax. You will also find a boaters lounge, laundry facility, showers and lavatory and a few restaurants in the marina basin.

What is the Trawler ACE all about?

The After Class Experience is an excellent way to apply the time spent studying and applying on the water. Developing confidence outside your comfort zone are key when elevating a skill set. Spending four days learning, practicing, testing and receiving certification only to return home and forget what was learned is not building confidence. The Trawler ACE is your “solo flight”. No instructor onboard. Just the two of you applying what’s been learned to safely and competently pilot the vessel by yourselves. We have confidence and a track record our program will take you to the next level. In order to execute the Trawler ACE, you both must pass the on-water skills and drills, certification testing and receive the sign off of the Instructor. Trawler ACE is not required to receive your US Powerboating certification.

Who is US Powerboating?

US Powerboating is the affiliate organization of US Sailing, which is the governing body for sailing in the United States. They’ve had an established certified sailing program with hundreds of learn to sail centers across the U.S. for over 30 years. We chose to become certified and offer US Powerboating certification due to their established presence and dedication to align and promote the U.S. Coast Guard Boating Safety Division to increase safe and responsible use of the waterways we all enjoy.   Learn more about US Powerboating.

What should I bring with me?

Less is more and recall those vacations and jaunts where you used far less than what you brought! Being prepared is good but over geared when you have to carry it around is not. If you’re driving to us you can leave gear in your car, but if your flying into Traverse City it’s wise to pack light. We’ve put together a list of items and other recommendations during your visit to help with those questions. You can always call or email us if you’re not sure.

Nordic Tug 32 “Vital Signs”

BPC / IPC Combo
Basic and Inshore Powerboat Cruising


  • Two People Per Class Max
  • Pricing Includes Two People
  • Comprehensive Course Binder
  • Day Before Early Boarding

Night Operations Endorsement


  • Two People Max
  • Nav and Maneuvers at Night
  • BPC/IPC Prerequisite
  • Optional Extension of BPC/IPC

Trawler ACE
After Class Experience


  • Two People Required
  • BPC / IPC Pre-Requisite
  • Start your cruising log right
  • Three days

Nordic Tug 32 “Red Griffon II”

BPC / IPC Combo
Basic and Inshore Powerboat Cruising


  • Two People Per Class Max
  • Pricing Includes Two People
  • Comprehensive Course Binder
  • Day Before Early Boarding

Night Operations Endorsement


  • Two People Max
  • Nav and Maneuvers at Night
  • BPC/IPC Prerequisite
  • Optional Extension of BPC/IPC

Trawler ACE
After Class Experience


  • Two People Required
  • BPC / IPC Pre-Requisite
  • Start your cruising log right
  • Three days

centerpoint marina complex

CenterPointe Marina has been our homeport since 2000. Traverse City’s most iconic marina facility within the Elmwood Township marina, located at the base of Leelanau Peninsula. A private marina property offering clean and modern facilities, easy and abundant parking, close access to the TART trail and two miles to downtown Traverse City’s many restaurants and hydration stations.

How to Book

Our booking and reservation is traditional. Person to person. Knowing what you expect from us is important. Ensuring your questions are answered and your goals will be met.
Call first. Then book.



If you have decided to book and a class date is available, fill out the trawler school reservation form below. You will receive an auto reply and we’ll get a notice out to you confirming your chosen date is available.


A reservation deposit of 50% is required to confirm your class dates.  Reservations inside 30 days of class commencement require the full balance.

Forms of Payment

We do not take credit cards. Checks and ACH transfers are the preferred method of payment.


Your class will be confirmed when your deposit is received. Confirmation documents, class binder, and textbook will be sent to you.


The balance of your course tuition is due 30 days prior to your class commencement.  


Life’s unpredictable circumstances do occur. We understand some things just cant be anticipated. Our cancellation policy is reasonable with flexibility.  Read More for details.

Trawler School Registration Form

Please fill in the registration form to secure your preferred class date.

Trawler School Registration

Please complete the TS Registration form in its entirety so we have all the prelim info to get you started.

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First Student*
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Second Student
Email Address
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Please check the optional class and charter you would like to include with the BPC and IPC.
How did you find us?
Please give us a brief summary of any boating experience you think would be beneficial for your instructor to know.

Commitment to Confidentiality

Some of the information we ask for can be considered sensitive in nature. We understand the hesitation to provide it on a form to people you don't know. We pledge to never share or divulge your information to anyone unaffiliated with Trawlers Great Lakes.

Are You a Spammer? Of Course You're Not.


My wife and I attended the Trawler school in August planning for a boat purchase and the great loop. We had no boat experience above our pontoon and hourly rentals of small boats. On the first day we were moving a 32 Ft. Nordic Tug in close quarters in multiple marinas. Capt. Mike was a great teacher in the classroom, on the water, and on the boat. Jay also was great showing us the mechanical features, maintenance and overview of several Tugs. All around class operation run by Jay and his team. Would recommend it to anyone looking to learn or to improve their skills.”

Mark H.

Trawler School offering a US Powerboating Certification standard is a valuable experience accommodating students with different levels of experience and skills. Interweave of classroom and on-the-water hands-on practical learning is highly effective. The environment efficiently consolidates Center Pointe Marina facilities and Nordic Tug trawler operation on adjacent Grand Traverse Bay for maximum learning. Jay who facilitates the course and Mike who is an instructor, June 4 class, effectively communicate essential power boat knowledge and trawler handling skills. I highly recommend Bay Breeze Yacht Sales offered Trawler School for an individual or team who want to attain or improve trawler handling while obtaining a recognized powerboat certification.” [Jeff B class graduation 4 June 2019]

Jeff B.

We attended Jay’s Trawler School and followed with an ACE charter. I highly recommend the school and the charter to begin power boating with confidence. The entire experience was educational and enjoyable. As a bonus Jay is well-connected in the boating industry and is generous with his knowledge and insights.”

Stephen H.